The pilot episode of Netflix’s most expensive series ever made opens with a sick man coughing up a storm and spewing out blood in a toilet. This man later is revealed to be King George VI. Prince Philip renounces his Danish and Greek titles and becomes Duke of Edinburgh in order to wed Princess Elizabeth.
They first laid eyes on each other when Princess Elizabeth toured the Naval College where Prince Philip was at school. He was 18 and she, 13. The two are third cousins, as they share the same great-great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth on the day they announced their engagement
The portrayal of the moment after Prince Philip renounced his Danish and Greek throne
Earlier, it was reported that Elizabeth the Queen Mother had been pushing for her daughters to marry into aristocratic English families similar to her own: those of nobility, rather than royalty. But the bond between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip strengthened during his time as an officer in World War II. The pair corresponded with each other and when the war ended, Prince Philip asked the King for his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. Elizabeth always had a crush on Philip and he was her first and only romantic partner. Despite King George VI's initial reservations about his heir apparent marrying a Greek prince, Philip and Elizabeth's marriage is still going strong 69 years later.
What was King George sick of?
World War II took a toll on King George VI’s health. In 1951, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and arteriosclerosis, and it did not help that he was a habitual smoker. In 1951, he underwent surgery to have an obstruction in his left bronchus removed, which was the same surgery showed in The Crown’s premiere.
King George VI making his broadcast after the breakout of World War II
Did Prince Philip really sleep naked?
In one surprising scene, we see Prince Philip in bed baring his bottom. This is based on actual fact and according to Claire Foy, the actress who plays Elizabeth, the scene was included to keep the show realistic.
EPISODE 2: HYDE PARK CORNER
King George VI is found dead while Princess Elizabeth is on tour with Prince Philip in Kenya. She automatically succeeds her father.
Why was King Edward VIII's abdication such a big deal?
A day before his death, King George VI went on a hunting trip. Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill’s protégé, approached him to ask him to speak to Churchill as his friend, “Albert.” The King, however, declined and told Eden, “I no longer am Albert Windsor. That person was murdered by his older brother when he abdicated.”
In a metaphorical sense, abdication was like murder because accepting the crown meant the death of Albert's old identity and the birth of a new one, one where he could no longer walk alongside his wife, among other things, because the crown superseded everything else. Remember, Prince Albert never expected to take on the monarchy but after his elder brother chose to abdicate the throne so he could marry a divorcee, the heavy burden of the crown was passed on to Albert and his entire lineage.
The name of a large park in London was the code used to signify King George VI’s death.
Did then-Princess Elizabeth throw a tennis racket at Prince Philip?
The timing and details were off but that scene where the royal couple fought while on tour did actually happen, although it didn't happen at the time and place portrayed in the series. The Queen was caught flinging a shoe and a tennis racket at her husband by a group of Australian film crew a year after her coronation. All clips were destroyed at the request of the royal press secretary.
Must a monarch take a new name?
Monarchs get to choose their regnal names—the name monarchs and popes go by during their reign—upon ascension. When attendant Martin asked Elizabeth what name she would go by, she simply declared, “My own, of course—what else?” There have been monarchs who chose regnal names different from their Christened names, sometimes for continuity and other times because of the history of the regnal name. Many speculate that Prince Charles will choose a different regnal name since the history of the name “Charles” has not been a pleasant one and King Charles II is remembered as a womanizer.
What does Hyde Park Corner mean?
Moments after King George VI was found dead, three words seemed to indicate the king’s passing: ‘Hyde Park Corner.’ The name of a large park in London was the code used to signify King George VI’s death. We’re not exactly sure why the British government chose that phrase and it was never expounded on but Prime Minister Winston Churchill seemed to know exactly what it meant in this episode and in real life. When BBC chronicled the day of the king’s death, it was noted that Churchill reacted to the secret code by saying, “Bad news? The worst!” before calling a cabinet meeting. A code was used so as to conceal actual events before officials were ready to divulge the information.
EPISODE 3: WINDSOR
It is in this episode that the funeral arrangements for King George VI are underway. The king's elder brother, previously King Edward VIII, now Duke of Windsor, arrives, causing a stir at the palace.
What really happened between the Duke of Windsor and the rest of the royal family?
The episode ‘Windsor’ practically revolves around former King Edward VIII who afterward served as Duke of Windsor. It seemed evident in the way the characters treated their relative that they had never forgiven him for abdicating the throne, which was considered a great shame for their family.
When the time came for Edward to wed his lover, Wallis Simpson, none of the members of the royal family attended the ceremony. The couple was also sent into self-exile in Paris for the remainder of their days. Simpson was also deprived of the title of Royal Highness, which bothered her husband. He relentlessly pursued that title for her throughout their marriage.
In a message to the public, Queen Elizabeth said, “Nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love.”
The former king could not enter Britain without permission, or risk his private financial arrangements being canceled. His mother, Queen Mary, was not sympathetic to his plight. She once told him that: “It seemed inconceivable to those who had made such sacrifices during the war that you, as their king, refused a lesser sacrifice.” The former king and his wife remained in Paris for the rest of their days but were buried together in Windsor Castle.
How real are those nasty nicknames the Duke and Duchess of Windsor gave their family members?
In this episode, we’re treated to a more intimate depiction of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor through their correspondence via letters. Until today, many letters from the duke and letters regarding him have resurfaced and have shed some light on matters concerning his abdication, his relationships with his estranged family and his mistresses, and ultimately, his true character.
In this episode, the duke shares harsh nicknames of the members of the royal family with his wife, including a very frosty description of them and the happenings during his visit. Queen Elizabeth II, his niece, was known to the couple as Shirley Temple, while her mother was called “Cookie,” following the rumor that she was the daughter of the family’s French cook. We have confirmed that these nasty names were indeed real. In one letter released by the Daily Mail in 1988, the duke referred to his relatives as “a seedy worn out bunch of old hags,” and said of his mother, “I’m afraid her veins have always been as icy cold as they are in death.”
In return, the family refers to the shunned Duchess of Windsor simply as “that woman.” It is also known that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had a great sense of loathing towards her. Even before the abdication, the Queen Mother considered Simpson as ‘the lowest of the low, a thoroughly immoral woman,’ because of her status as a divorcee. During their first meeting, the former Duchess of York accidentally walked in on Simpson doing an impression of her. She also dubbed her ‘the Dowdy Duchess’ and ‘the fat Scottish cook.’
How accurate was the portrayal of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend’s relationship?
Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret sharing a moment
Their relationship was very real and was actually quite a scandal in that time since Townsend was married and then later divorced. They had met when Margaret was 14 years old and Townsend was 16 years older, but only began to fall in love after the death of King George VI. The palace tried their best to conceal the affair but news eventually broke out after Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
EPISODE 4: ACT OF GOD
The Great Smog of 1952 marks a tumultuous time in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s second term, while he tries to divert the cabinet’s attention to Prince Philip’s desire to pilot planes.
Was the Great Smog a real event?
It was a real event that lasted five days and killed 4,000 Londoners in December of 1952. The smog reeked of rotten eggs from the sulfur and spanned an incredulous 30 miles. It was so bad that denizens in one area reportedly could not see their feet and most forms of transportation were stalled for the five days.
Was Venetia Scott, Churchill’s secretary, based on a real character?
The fictional Venetia Scott and Winston Churchill, played by John Lithgow
The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan, admitted that this character was one of the few fabricated ones in the series, put there mainly to give a greater sense of loss in this episode. Although unreal, Venetia succeeded in drawing out a more vulnerable side of rough-edged Churchill.
EPISODE 5: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
Planning the Queen's coronation proves to be a challenge for everyone involved, as Prince Philip takes the reins. His proposal to televise the ceremony is objected to by the archbishop and Winston Churchill. Meanwhile, the Duke of Windsor gets reminiscent about the whole ordeal and his failure to make his own coronation.
Did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor decorate their homes with pug memorabilia?
If the queen has her corgis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were obsessed with pugs. They kept several in their Paris home and were occasionally photographed outdoors with them. They were said to have treated them as the children they never had, feeding them with silver bowls and letting them rest on velvet pillows. Simpson was known to have brought around a pug-embroidered pillow with her when she traveled.
The duke and duchess of Windsor in Paris
Was Prince Philip really reluctant to kneel before the queen?
This one was probably more fiction than fact. Constitutional expert Christopher Wilson argues that the Prince grew up in a royal household and knew exactly what he was getting into, thus never expressing disdain against kneeling before his wife. With his strong personality, he might have expressed concerns regarding this privately but it was never documented as a full-blown issue.
Prince Philip giving the new queen a coronation kiss of homage
What was the story behind the coronation’s airtime?
While there were already three million people lined up in the streets waiting to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned monarch, many millions more watched the ceremony in the comfort of their own homes. It was considered BBC’s largest ever outdoor event coverage, at the time reaching up to 27 million viewers. As seen in this episode, many objected to the airing of the ceremony, with the fear of catching mistakes that might not be rectified. Churchill and the Archbishop of Canterbury were strongly against it. Still, the final decision was the queen’s to make and she eventually agreed to it. Planning its coverage took months and in the end, there were only four cameras in the Abbey and 26 microphone points, mostly near the throne. More pressing that that, though, was who to put on the guest list.
EPISODE 6: MUCH ADO
Princess Margaret and Captain Peter Townsend ask Queen Elizabeth II for permission to marry. While the Queen is initially positive about the idea—of course, she wants to see her sister happy—she requests Margaret to wait till she turns 25 years old.
So did the press really “discover” Princess Margaret and Townsend’s relationship because of that odd gesture?
Princess Margaret was publicly seen flicking a piece of lint off Group Captain Townsend's jacket. In the early 1900s, that was considered intimate. Such a gesture only meant that the two were very familiar and comfortable with each other.
Ben Miles as Peter Townsend and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret
Why did Queen Elizabeth ask her sister Princess Margaret to wait till she was 25 to get married?
According to the Royal Law back then, members of the royal family could not marry without the permission of the reigning monarch. After age 25, however, whoever is not given consent to marry may appeal to the Queen’s Privy Council with the approval of the Parliament. Margaret was only 23 when Peter, a divorced man, asked for her hand in marriage.
Princess Margaret asks for the Queen's permission to wed group captain Townsend
EPISODE 7: SCIENTIA
This episode aptly titled “Knowledge is Power” explores details on the education of Queen Elizabeth and how she acknowledges her own limitations when it comes to it. To make up for this disadvantage, she hires a private tutor named Professor Hogg. Churchill, on the other hand, suffers two strokes and struggles to carry out his duties.
What kind of education did Queen Elizabeth get?
Queen Elizabeth II, like her predecessors, did not get a formal education. Instead, she was privately tutored throughout her early years, mastering constitutional law and history, as well as French. Of course, she was also taught immensely about politeness and royal etiquette.
Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret, however, were the last royals to have been home-schooled. If this episode of The Crown wasn’t enough of a disclosure that Her Majesty would really have appreciated getting a better education that included science, math, literature, and art courses, know that she made sure her children did. Her son Prince Charles was the first heir to the British throne to have attended university and received a degree.
A young Princess Elizabeth
Who was that cute private secretary of Queen Elizabeth?
He’s Martin Charteris. He was her private secretary when she was a Princess, and they had a very close relationship. While she tried to promote him to become her secretary again as Queen, it would have broken royal protocol as there was an existing secretary to the monarchy and a next-in-line at that time. When the next-in-line retired, however, Charteris finally took the position, and held it for five years from 1972, organizing royal tours and writing the Queen’s speeches.
Did Churchill really hide his stroke from Queen Elizabeth?
In the series, the Prime Minister withheld from the Queen his frail condition after suffering a stroke, but reports say it is unsure whether the Queen was aware or not. But for sure, it was kept a secret from the press and the Parliament in the beginning.
EPISODE 8: PRIDE & JOY
While featuring more flashbacks to the childhood of Elizabeth (the King’s pride) and Margaret (the King’s joy), this episode also
What castle did Queen Mother buy in Scotland?
While taking a break in Caithness, northern Scotland, with her dear friend Lady Doris Vyner, the Queen Mother spotted an old castle about to be abandoned by its owner. “The old man who has lived there a long time was very anxious to give it to me but I resisted the kind gesture and he has now offered it to me for £100,” she wrote her treasurer, Sir Arthur Penn. She bought the Castle of Mey to “escape there occasionally when life becomes hideous.”
In 1996, the Queen Mother turned over the property to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which opened it to the public after she passed away in 2002.
The show tackles both the beauty and burden involved in the sisters’ relationship, and perhaps for the point of emphasis, the last few episodes of the season focused on dramatizing its aspects of conflict—from jealousy to disloyalty. In real life and for the most part, however, the siblings enjoyed a loving relationship. They were incredibly close, according to royal family friend Reinaldo Herrera, who shared in Vanity Fair, that “Princess Margaret had a telephone on her desk in Kensington Palace with a direct line to the Queen in Buckingham Palace, on which the two would gossip and laugh with each other daily.” When Margaret passed away in 2002, the world, for the first time ever, became a witness to Her Majesty’s grief.
The apparent strain depicted between the royal sisters
EPISODE 9: ASSASSINS
Lord Porchester was Queen Elizabeth’s lifelong friend who became her racing manager. She fondly called him
The Queen holding Lord Porchester's son after the baby's christening
What really was his relationship with Queen Elizabeth?
While the world gossipped about their true relationship then,
Did Churchill really paint?
Yes, he did. While he was best known as one of the greatest prime ministers of Great Britain, he also spent a lot of time painting, and he proved to be very good at it. He produced hundreds of paintings and even made a book titled Painting as a Pastime.
Here are some of his works:
What did the actual portrait of Winston Churchill by Graham Sutherland look like and what really happened to it?
British modernist painter Graham Sutherland was commissioned to make a portrait of Churchill as a gift for his 80th birthday. It became a controversial artwork after Churchill saw the final output, an old and weak depiction of himself. In the show, he sarcastically announced that it was “a remarkable example of modern art.” For the longest time, no one knew what happened to the painting other than the fact that it had disappeared. Two years ago, it was revealed that his wife, Clementine Churchill, decided to dispose of the painting. She had her loyal secretary take it out to be burned miles away.
EPISODE 10: GLORIANA
This could have been titled Queen Elizabeth Against The World if only for all the tension squeezed into this intense and dramatic finale: Her Majesty versus her personal feelings, her husband, her sister, the Crown, the Church of England, and the parliament, among others. Here we also get to see how Princess Margaret reacts after her sister tells her the devastating news that she may not marry Peter Townsend.
Weren't Margaret and Peter supposed to be allowed to wed when Margaret turned 25? What happened to Queen Elizabeth’s promise to her sister?
While Margaret and Peter Townsend waited two years (Townsend was sent away to work in Brussels) as instructed, the Queen still couldn’t give her approval for them to get married. She was pressured to protect the monarchy by Churchill and Parliament and by her very own position as the head of the Church of England, which also opposed divorce. Royals then couldn’t marry divorced individuals without getting stripped of their royal titles, privileges, and allowances. Yes, our hearts broke too.
A teary Princess Margaret speaking to Peter Townsend
Did Townsend get to move on? What about Princess Margaret?
Yes. Townsend was assigned to Belgium, where he met Marie-Luce Jamagne, whom he married. The couple moved to France and had a daughter named Isabelle Townsend, who became a fashion model in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Princess Margaret, on the other hand, married photographer Antony